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Barbara ten Brink
On the Island with Charles Darwin

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

On the Island with Charles Darwin is a work of fiction. While we know lots and lots about the life and work of Charles Darwin through preserved documents, notebooks, publications, letters, correspondence, membership in The Royal Society, we know nothing about the fictional characters I have created around him. The characters, their names, and events are entirely fictional. But they are authentic. I researched many topics to build a realistic setting and plausible events around the time Charles Darwin was visiting the Galápagos Archipelago, making observations and journal entries for his manuscript, On the Origin of Species (1859). It was also my great privilege to travel to Galápagos, to visit the islands of Isla de San Cristóbal and Isla Isabela, and experience for myself the entrepreneurial spirit of young naturalists who hire out their boats to take tourists on excursions to witness seals and sea lions, boobies, sharks, marine iguanas, penguins. Rather than travel by cruise ship, I rented Villa Rosa. Th is home was once the sea cucumber warehouse and counting house mentioned throughout the story.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: An entertaining and fun fictionalized account of Darwin's visit to the Galápagos islands, this read will appeal to young adult audiences. The narrator's voice is youthful, but the author is able to incorporate insight and knowledge into the story through his lively perspective.

Prose: The descriptive prose will transport readers straight to the Galápagos islands while evoking the curiosity and wonderment of exploring new surroundings—and the narrator offers readers a chance to experience his awe firsthand.

Originality: On the Island with Charles Darwin is a clever reimagining that will ring true with fans of historical fiction, while conjuring the inquisitiveness and allure of young adulthood. 

Character Development/Execution: Secondary characters are suitably defined, but the backbone of this story is the author's ability to fashion robust main players with distinct objectives and an unbridled enthusiasm for their natural surroundings. 

Date Submitted: August 23, 2022